Tatiana Shanks: 20 Year Old Award-Winning Director & Social Justice Advocate

Tatiana Shanks, creator of Far Away Places.

Tatiana Shanks, creator of Far Away Places.


Making movies that matter.

Born and raised in Los Angeles, this Canadian-Tahitian woman found an interest in storytelling early on. Over the past few years, Tatiana Shanks has worked as a social media manager, fashion photographer and model. Directing movies, though, has been her long-lasting passion. Directing movies is more than a creative outlet for her. Movies can be a powerful platform to inspire change and share meaningful stories. This is why Tatiana wants to make movies that matter.

“Movies are my therapy. I hate leaving a movie and not learning anything from it. I want to leave a movie feeling inspired and wanting to take action.”

After learning about a family member’s story of childhood abuse, Tatiana decided to bring this sinister issue to light in her latest short film, Far Away Places. Child abuse is more pervasive than we think. According to the non-profit Darkness to Light, 1 in 10 children will be sexually abused before the age of 18. “I was so moved by her story. I knew this story needed to be told.” Despite a few reserved opinions on the film’s topic, this 20 year old screenwriter, producer and director trusted her gut and decided to make the short film. Being mindful of not triggering survivors, Tatiana ensured that there were only scenes loosely suggesting what had happened.

“I almost didn’t make the film because of its controversial nature. But You know - It’s based on a true story. It actually happened. So why can’t I tell it?”

Tatiana Shanks (right) and her crew shooting Far Away Places in Punaauia, Tahiti in 2017.

Tatiana Shanks (right) and her crew shooting Far Away Places in Punaauia, Tahiti in 2017.

The short film took 2 months of pre-production, 10 days of filming in Tahiti, and 2 years of post-production. It has already created a buzz within the film community, winning an impressive 15 awards, including the Madrid International Film Festival’s “Best Original Screenplay in a Short Foreign Film.” “I never thought in a million years that we would win anything in general.”

Tatiana is grateful for people who are finding the strength to share their experiences. As more and more #MeToo stories are shared, she is hoping that change can happen. She strongly believes in getting comfortable having uncomfortable conversations. She wants to remind survivors that they are not alone and that their stories matter.

We can’t be afraid to talk about it. We need to keep fighting against it.

What’s next for Tatiana?

She looks forward to releasing Far Away Places to the public next year after hearing back from a few remaining film festivals. In the meantime, she’s focusing on building her portfolio, perfecting her craft and getting ready to expose audiences to other critical world issues.

Want to partner with or support this young director’s work? Follow Tatiana and Far Away Places

Far Away Places | Shortfilm.

Far Away Places | Shortfilm.


Marushka Hirshon is a Tahitian-American nonprofit founder, community organizer and freelance journalist. She graduated from Stanford University with a B.S. in Science, Technology and Society with a focus in Environment and Sustainability. Follow